What are Search Engines?
Search Engines are an internet based tool that allow users to find relevant information on the World Wide Web. The user simply types a search term e.g. Flower shops in Sydney. The search engine provides the most relevant results based on the search query. This can be seen as a directory back in the day where if you wanted to find a flower shop you would look for the alphabet ‘F’ and then the word flower in the index to find the corresponding page number, you then flip to that particular page to find the results.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization is the process of ranking your website on various search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing so that it can easily be found by people looking for the product or service that your business provides.
How does a search engine decide the ranking of a website?
Search engines use programs often called a spider, crawler, or in the case of Google a bot known as Googlebot to read and process information on the internet. This information is then compiled together and presented to the user as results on the search engine based on the keyword that has been entered by the user on the search engine. These spiders use proprietary algorithms in order to decide the position of a website on a Search Engine Result Page (SERP). The algorithms give weightage to various factors while determining the rank of a website however the weight given to each factor is not known. Therefore SEO experts use the guidelines provided by Search engines in order to get the best results for their search engine campaigns. Some of the information to get started with your Search Engine Optimization can be found here- Google SEO Basics, Bing Webmaster Guidelines.
What Factors affect the rankings of a page on a Search Engine?
There is a long list of factors (approximately 200 for Google) that affect the ranking of a website on search engines and it impossible to know them all. We are listing some factors below that are more oblivious and have provided results for the search engine campaigns we have run.
Quality Content – Each page on the website should have unique and qualitative content. The content should be naturally written i.e. easily understandable by humans and not stuffed with keywords in order to fool the search engines. Check for spelling errors (Google doesn’t like spelling errors). There should also be no repetition of content within the website.
Get those Tags right- Make sure that the Title Tags and Description Tags contain the keywords being targeted. Stick to the word count provided by Google or Bing.
Headings – The Headings on the page should have the Keywords mentioned (H). It sends out a relevancy signal to search engines for that particular Keyword.
Keyword being mentioned a few times in the content – This helps you tell the search engine that the importance of that word.
URL re-writing – It is important to mention the keyword in the URL. Avoid ( _) in URLS while using re-writing to target keywords.
A well structured website – Search Engine Optimization starts the day you start planning a new website. It is important to create a sitemap of the website even before you start designing your website and decide the pages on the website and how these pages are linked to each other. Search engines like websites to be well structured and easily navigable. At the same time a sitemap helps you to visualise the overall structure of the website and how each page can be used to target keywords.
Alt Tags – Search Engine Crawlers cannot see images. Therefore it is important to use Alt tags for every Image. Using Keywords in Alt tags is a good idea as it makes the image readable to the crawlers.
Inbound Links – The amount of links (Quality!) referring back to your site. Google likes this but you have to be careful with Spammy links. The recent update from Google i.e. Panda and Penguin have change the SEO game by removing and penalizing websites with links on such websites.
Outbound Links – Users should not hit a dead-end when they come to your website. Having outbound links sends out a positive signal to Google.
Mobile Optimised Websites – The word is Google may start penalizing websites that are not mobile friendly. Here are some guidelines as published on the Google Webmaster Blog. If you are thinking of re-designing your current website or developing a brand new website you should seriously consider getting a mobile responsive website. Find out more about our mobile responsive web design services.
Having a Keyword in the Domain – This gives a website an edge over its competitors when it comes to rankings on search engines.
Dofollow vs. Nofollow links – Google only counts dofollow links therefore the number of dofollow links count when it comes to rankings.
Social Media Presence- Having Social Media presence helps you to do quality back-link building for your website and also sends out a positive signal to Google.
URL Canonicalization – Check the URL for canonicalization issues. Make sure the format being used is consistent across the website. There are mainly two types of domains indexed by search engines i.e. www and non- www. Using 301 redirects is one of the more widely used practices to fix this issue.
Other Factors – Find out more about other factors that can affect the search engine rankings of a website.
As I said above these are just some of the factors that Google considers while ranking a website. According to our experience these carry the most weight while trying to optimize a website for Google Search Engines. If you can consider these factors while optimizing your website more than half the battle is won. Also if you can get a good ranking on Google you would not be very far behind on other search engines. If you are on the hunt for a SEO expert in Australia get in touch with us at our Sydney Office and find out more about our SEO packages.